Shepherd men’s soccer finds offense hard to come by in road loss to Notre Dame (Ohio)

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Freshman midfielder Adam Rice (10), pictured here earlier this season, and the Rams had tremendous difficulty getting off quality shots thanks to the Falcons' swarming defense. (Photo courtesy of Shepherd University's Athletics Department).

On Wednesday afternoon, the Rams (0-14-1, 0-9-0 MEC) struggled mightily offensively, falling on the road to the Notre Dame (Ohio) Falcons (10-4-0, 7-3-0 MEC) by a 4-0 score.  

Throughout the whole match, the Rams could not test Falcons’ sophomore goalkeeper Daniele De Angelis, as they posted just three shots during the course of the match. De Angelis did not have to record a save in the match, as none of the Rams’ shots were on target.  

Early on in the first half, the Rams had a great chance to get on the board. Sophomore forward Ryan Zinaich found an opening to get a shot off, but his shot went high at the 1:57 mark. 

Later on in the first half, senior midfielder Luis Prado likewise had a crease and launched a shot, but this one again sailed over the crossbar at the 19:24 mark.  

Freshman midfielder Adam Rice had an opportunity in the second half to tie the game at 1-1, but his shot went wide at the 51:09. The Rams were not able to generate many shots, so each miss became increasingly costly and deflating.  

For as much as the Rams were unable to pass and control the ball, the Falcons demonstrated great ability in this department. They found and made nice passing lanes to weave through the Rams’ defense, leading to 24 shots in the game. 

Falcons’ senior forward Leonardo Paiva got one of these shots to go in at the 17:55 mark by weaving his way through the Rams’ defense to get a great shot off, giving the Falcons a 1-0 lead. 

However, the Rams’ defense and senior goalkeeper Jacob Clements kept the Falcons’ attack in check for a large majority of the game. For about the next 51 minutes, the majority of the Falcons’ shots were either off target, blocked on great deflections by the Rams’ defenders, or saved by Clements. 

This trend would sadly come to an end for the Rams, as in about an 11-minute stretch, the Falcons would pad their lead with three more goals. 

At the 68:55 mark, Paiva posted his second point of the match, dishing off a nice assist to Leo Ceruti, who sent the ball past Clements to give the Falcons some more breathing room, as the score now stood at 2-0. 

Just a few minutes later, at the 71:22 mark, Javier Mate placed a nice pass of his own to teammate Guilherme Gloria, who launched a shot to the back of the net. This gave the Falcons a 3-0 lead, all but cementing the victory. 

Despite the game’s fate being relatively locked up, Gloria did not relent. At the 79:35 mark, he scored his second goal of the match by creating space for himself to get an excellent shot off, as this one again went past the arms of Clements. The score now stood 4-0 in favor of the Falcons. 

This 11-minute stretch really put the Rams down for good, as they simply had no offense or time to mount a comeback.  

The Rams allowed 10 corner kick opportunities for the Falcons in the game, while not getting any such opportunities themselves. This put the defense and Clements under great pressure, as De Angelis could afford to relax for a decent amount of time at his own end of the field. 

Clements saw 11 shots come his direction in the course of the game. He posted seven quality saves, but allowed the four goals. However, on a day where the Rams were not able to move the ball and post just three shots, it is not justifiable to blame the loss squarely on Clements’ shoulders.  

The Falcons were able to get off such a large volume of shots that continually overwhelmed and tired the Rams’ defense. Just like in any other sport, the more chances a team gets to score, it will eventually capitalize and make its opponents pay, which is exactly what the Falcons did to the Rams.  

With three games left, the Rams will have to make great adjustments in order to secure their first win of the season, as time is running out. 

This Sunday, Oct. 18, the Rams return home to face Wheeling Jesuit for Senior Day. The match begins at 1 p.m. 

Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at abrack02@rams.shepherd.edu